• Explosive detectionImproving canine detection of explosives

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $564,988 in funding to Auburn University for two research and development (R&D) projects designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of canines trained to detect explosives.

  • Munitions700,000 submunitions demilitarized by Sandia-designed robotics system

    More than 700,000 Multiple Launch Rocket System submunitions have been demilitarized since the Army started using an automated nine-robot system conceptualized, built and programmed by Sandia Lab engineers. The automated system was built for the Army’s demilitarization program that aims to dismantle obsolete ammunition and missiles.

  • Landmines detectionBreeding challenges of land mine-finding rats

    Thousands of people – many of them children – are hurt or killed by land mines each year, so finding these devices before they explode is critical. There is a surprising champion of detection: the African giant pouched rat. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the pouched rats are large – they can grow up to 3 feet long, including the tail – but are still too small to set off the land mines. They have an exceptional sense of smell – they are also used to detect tuberculosis – but scientists know very little about their biology or social structure, and they’re difficult to breed in captivity.

  • Home-grown terrorismSecret Service intercepts explosive devices sent to Clintons, Obama, CNN

    The U.S. Secret Service says it has intercepted two suspicious packages with “possible explosive devices,” one of them addressed to former President Barack Obama and the other to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Within hours, the Time Warner Center in New York, where news network CNN has studios, was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious device was found in the mail room there.

  • Explosives detectionDeveloping new security scanners capable of detecting explosives

    Using a single pixel camera and Terahertz electromagnetic waves, a team of physicists has devised a blueprint which could lead to the development of airport scanners capable of detecting explosives. The researchers have found an innovative way to capture with high accuracy, not just the shape of an object, but also its chemical composition using a special “single point” camera capable of operating at Terahertz (THz) frequencies.

  • DetectionWiFi can detect weapons, bombs, chemicals in bags

    Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools and other public venues, according to a new study. Researchers  demonstrated how this low-cost technology could help security screening at public venues like stadiums, theme parks and schools.

  • Bomb disposalHigh- and low-tech solutions for bomb disposal

    To ensure bomb techs are on the cutting edge of technology as they address evolving threats, DHS S&T created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster and more safely. They look at a variety of sources—including the commercial marketplace, responder communities and international partners—for high- and low-tech solutions.

  • Passenger screeningWinners announced in $1.5 million Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge

    DHS S&T and TSA the other day announced the eight winners of the Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge. The prize competition solicited new automated detection algorithms from individuals and entities that can improve the speed and accuracy of detecting small threat objects and other prohibited items during the airport passenger screening process.

  • ExplosivesReplacing TNT with less toxic explosive

    Scientists have developed a novel “melt-cast” explosive material that could be a suitable replacement for Trinitrotoluene, more commonly known as TNT. TNT was first prepared in 1863 by German chemist Julius Wilbrand but its full potential as an explosive wasn’t discovered until 1891. TNT has been in use as a munitions explosive since 1902.

  • DronesDrones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • K-9sImproving K-9 training

    Additive manufacturing (AM) has gone to the dogs, thanks to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) new approach to K-9 training materials. The process prints 3D objects that contain trace amounts of nonreactive explosives, resulting in several advantages for K-9s and their handlers.

  • ExplosivesUnderstanding explosive sensitivity with molecule design

    Explosives have an inherent problem - they should be perfectly safe for handling and storage but detonate reliably on demand. Using computer modeling and a novel molecule design technique, scientists have replaced one “arm” of an explosive molecule to help unravel the first steps in the detonation process and better understand its sensitivity — how easily it begins a violent reaction.

  • DetectionExpanding real-time radiological threat detection to include other dangers

    Advanced commercially available technologies—such as additive manufacturing (3-D printing), small-scale chemical reactors for pharmaceuticals, and CRISPR gene-manipulation tools—have opened wide access to scientific exploration and discovery. In the hands of terrorists and rogue nation states, however, these capabilities could be misused to concoct chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in small quantities and in form factors that are hard to detect. DARPA’s SIGMA+ program aims to create additional sensors and networks to detect biological, chemical, and explosives threats.

  • IEDsProtecting soldiers from blast-induced brain injury

    Researchers have developed a new military vehicle shock absorbing device that may protect warfighters against traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to exposure to blasts caused by land mines. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, more than 250,000 warfighters were victims of such injuries. Prior to this study, most research on blast-induced TBI has focused on the effects of rapid changes in barometric pressure, also known as overpressure, on unmounted warfighters.

  • Aviation securityTSA sets new firearm discovery record

    TSA discovered a record breaking 104 firearms in carry-on bags around the United States from 5 through 11 February. The previous record of ninety-six firearms was set in July of 2017. Of the 104 firearms discovered, 87 were loaded and 38 had a round chambered. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA says that the agency may impose civil penalties of up to $13,066 per violation per person for prohibited items violations and violations of other TSA regulations. Repeat violations will result in higher penalties.